Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Shapes of things to come

Someone I know well, now a former journalist, said he gave up being an atheist because, if there were no Hell, "Where would we put the editors?"
Any of us who have written letters to the editor know what he means.
Here is an example. In early February, 2005, I wrote a whimsical, tongue-in-cheek pontification to the Chattanooga (Tennessee) Times Free Press. Everything was spelled correctly, all the punctuation was just as it should be, and the grammar and style were perfect for what was intended.

Editor, Times Free Press

Dear Editor,
In your edition of Saturday last, you published a story on the new steeple for Ridgeview Baptist Church.
Your reporter – and editors – said the parcel of land upon which the church sits is “pie shaped.”
That is wrong.
The piece of land in question is more or less triangle shaped.
Pie are round.
Oh, I know some scientists and mathematicians go around saying “Pie are square,” but real people know – and I mean KNOW, know from real life, not from merely theoretical musings – that pie are round.
Now I will admit that cobbler can be square, but PIE are round.
Possibly what your reporter – and editors – meant was the parcel is shaped like a “piece of pie,” and perhaps the preferred term is “wedge shaped.”
Yours sincerely,
Professor Michael Morrison

Below is the moronic version the "news"paper published:

In your edition last Saturday, you published a story on the new steeple for Ridgeview Baptist Church. Your reporter and editors said the parcel of land upon which the church sits is “pie-shaped.” That is wrong.
The piece of land in question is more or less triangle-shaped. Pies are round. Oh, I know some scientists and mathematicians go around saying “Pies are square,” but real people know – and I mean know from real life, not from merely theoretical musings – that pies are round.
Now I will admit that cobbler can be square, but pies are round. Possibly what your reporter and editors meant was the parcel is shaped like a “piece of pie,” and perhaps the preferred term is “wedge-shaped.”

5 comments:

  1. Hi Michael,
    I'm looking for a list of similar blogs tracking the performance of various media. Have you come across such a thing? Could you shoot me a note or give me a ring at Poynter? Many thanks,
    Bill Mitchell
    727 456 2339
    bmitch@poynter.org

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hmmmm. I thought you had already been court-martialed.
    At any rate, I'm tickled you dropped in for a visit.
    Honored, in fact.
    The Poynter Institute sets some high standards.
    So far, the only site I know of is Jack Shafer's, but I will continue to be on the lookout.
    I found his column -- which is not really a site, I guess, but is part of Slate.com -- about two days after I set up this blog.
    I hope to find several similar sites and will let you know.
    Thanks again.
    Michael

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  3. Duh.
    Plus, of course, the site at http://www.poynter.org, in particular the Jim Romenesko column, at http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=45 to which Shafer had referred.
    You, of course, know about that one, but I want to let other visitors know and to urge them to visit there.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jo McIntyre6:03 PM

    See, I've read this. Love your blog, thanks for sending me the link.
    Jo McIntyre
    Business News Reporter
    Oregon

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for visiting and commenting.
    It's an honor to hear from such a distinguished writer and thinker.
    I hope you'll come back.
    Michael

    ReplyDelete